Doki Doki Literature Club – Review?

This is one of those games a lot of people on the internet talk about and vaguely mention how the story goes in a direction they weren’t expecting. The thing they tend not to mention is that its a tad forgettable. To understand where I’m coming from, I played this game a few months ago and I’m writing this using whatever I remembered from that experience.

Let’s also just say that spoilers will be in the article, so be aware.

You’re not allowed to see, so don’t even try!

The game itself, is just a game on a computer that you play. It’s meta like that. It plays in the style of a dating simulator where you try to get to know the girls in your literature club and kiss them. Weird things slowly start to happen in the simulation that causes you to get out and start messing around with the files. One of the girls becomes sentient and wants to be one of your love choices. The “shock” factor comes from one of the girls killing herself.

Uh oh, sticky situation here.

The sentient nature of one of the characters is an interesting plot point, I just felt like the rest of the story is where it got lost for me. Perhaps it was the limited way in which the story was told. Consisting of a visual style that is comprised of fairly static characters over the same backgrounds over and over, but I wasn’t really drawn into the world. I got to the end of the game the first time and was like “oh, so that’s what it was all about?”. That was my literal reaction. I had to then look up online to see if that really was the big thing everyone had been talking about. I just don’t think I was impress that much by the package. The art style is great though, the characters are all super cute and have a good anime style, but that is more subjective to the user.

Image viewer of the girls being cute.

It does seem to be a fan favorite game, winning IGN’s fan favorite best PC game of 2017, for what little that’s worth. I just wanted and expected more from this title. Perhaps that’s the real issue with how I played it, I knew there was something about this game that was different. I expected to be rattled or shocked by something, if you played it before getting popular it must have come as a huge surprise to you.

It teases you with lewdness.

Final Score – 5.5

As it stands, I got the platinum, so I did all the things. I really don’t see any reason to ever play this game again or even recommend it to other players. Maybe just watch a YouTube video of it. Is this even a controversial opinion? I also don’t get shocked by a lot in entertainment. So perhaps if the creator of this game went like 10x harder I would have had a memorable reaction that I’d remember for the rest of my life. Instead, this is the game that people got shocked at because a girl/computer character inside a game killed herself and a sentient AI woman took over.

Resident Evil Village – Review

I played this game a couple months ago and I’m just trying to get down some of my thoughts on the game before they leave my frail mind.

I kind of love the direction these Resident Evil games and remakes have been going lately. I just love the length of the titles. I like how the first time you play the game it takes X amount of hours, but you can get trophies for playing them over and over with different win conditions. It kind of unlocks a meta to the game that I’m not typically privy to. I’ve talked about this before, but the almost speedrun quality to the game really becomes apparent and it’s actually something that draws me into the game more.

The first time you play RE8, the story and setting really draw you into the world. It’s a continuation of the events from REVII and you play as the same character. I really felt invested in my character and his progression through this small village and the people that inhabit it. I like the mystery and sense of discovery available to you as you explore. I loved the character progression and upgrading of weapons at the Duke.

I wont try to avoid spoilers since this game has been out for a while, and I’m saying right now that I may spoil some stuff down below.

The first thing you notice about this game if you play on the PS5 is just how fast the loading times are. It’s so great to jump into a save in two seconds. From a playability standpoint, that’s an amazing feature and one I want all games to have.

I also really like the combat and the feel of the weapons as you battle the creatures of the village. It just works really well. I guess I kind of lost a lot of my nitpicky thoughts on this title, but I have to say that I was really pleased with my experience playing it.

I don’t think that’s how a shirt is cut… Just saying.

I’ve become a huge fan of these recent RE releases, including the remakes. I love slowly going through my first playthrough and looking in every corner for pickups and secrets. Then immediately playing through the story again to get a few more achievements while cutting down my time to just a couple of hours. Then going for the next run where you don’t open your item box or some shit like that. I like the fact that you can cheese those runs by unlocking overpowered weapons and the ability to turn on infinite ammo. They make it fun, they allow you to feel like you’re getting one over on the developers and tricking the system.

Let me just say that the one thing I do remember about this game is the fucking Mercenaries mode. If you’re going for that Platinum trophy you know what I’m talking about. You have to beat all the levels at increasing difficulty while S ranking the stages. It’s one of those things that when you start making attempts you just think it’s an impossible task and that you’re just going to fail, which you will. You clear the first set of challenges and have to go up a level and say “fuck it”. I would just stop the game for the night and attempt it the next day. On the highest difficulty Mercenaries challenges, I would watch YouTube videos of routing and try to follow along with them. It was a challenge, one that I ultimately came to respect, but don’t wish to attempt again. I did have fun with it but it really did make me wonder if I should continue down the trophy path.

Final Review – 9.0

I’m just a huge fan of this series and the direction the team is going with these games. They have a game engine that feels great to play around in and it looks beautiful. I can’t wait for the inevitable remake of RE4. Do you think the women will get even bigger in the next game though?

Watch Dogs Legion – Review (PS5)

Oh boy, this is some type of game. It was the weirdest experience I’ve had while playing one of these large open-world style games. I have to just start with what made this game so odd, screw the rest.

So you don’t get a main protagonist to control, instead you have to go around London to recruit people into your group, called DedSec. These recruits can be any NPC you see walking the streets of London, does that sound interesting to you? Because it wasn’t for me. I’ll get back to that though because I still need to get to what’s so fucking odd about this game and the way it was designed. You can unlock, very easily mind you, a little robot that you can control to infiltrate any base in the game. This little spider-bot robot can be upgraded to go invisible for a short period of time and can stun enemies, while also being used for hacking and stuff like that. That’s the setup.

Clean up your streets London!

Another hacking skill you can do is to hack construction drones with the tap of a button. Their stations are littered across the city, so all you have to do is walk near one, scan it and call a drone to your location. You then hack that drone and bring it down to the street level so you can hop on. You jump onto those drones, control them, fly over whichever mission you have, and drop down your spider drone. Your human character is just floating 50 meters in the air while you’re controlling a robot as you complete your objective. Once that’s done, back out of the drone, leaving it since it doesn’t matter, and you’re immediately in control of your character. You then fly out of the danger zone of the mission and the mission is done.

That sounds like a great setup and a cool mechanic, and it really is the first few times you use it. You quickly discover that it’s an easy, quick, and effective way to complete 90% of the missions in the game. I would start a new mission, fast travel as close to it as I could, find a construction drone to hop onto, fly to my mission, use the spider bot and bounce. You start to just get the sense that you broke the game design and that you’re cheating. It ends up getting super boring to keep doing this. I get that you’re in control of how you experience the missions and you can just sneak in with your character, kill people left and right, but that’s just a huge fucking hassle.

I think that’s what it is with game design and me as a player. If I’m given the option to have this amount of power over the game, I’ll use it. This setup is just too powerful. The second the game gets a little boring or you don’t care about the mission, or you’re just rushed for time, you’ll resort back to what makes the game easy. There is nothing to then stop you or slow you down from abusing this system to complete the game. It’s a freedom, why restrict you? When you think about it this way you start to understand why games may limit your abilities, or only allow these at certain times or towards the late game. I had this ability just a few hours into the game mind you. That is a serious design issue in my mind. Have missions where the spider-bots can’t enter a building because they have some sort of security preventing it, forcing me to change up my tactics, but that’s not in this game.

Play dress up or down.

The Citizens of London

My main issue with the story is the use of NPCs as the main protagonist in this game. It sounds like a cool concept but it leaves a lot to be desired. You just don’t give a shit about any of them to be honest. You may prefer one for a skill they have, a vehicle they have easy access to, or something similar, but that’s about it. You don’t care about their story or background, why they joined DedSec or anything like that. And yes I skipped recapping the story or how it all works because this is the third game in the series and you should already be caught up and I don’t care.

Instead, they should of had a group of characters, like in an Oceans 11 movie or something, all of them unique and with their special abilities. Just have their designs all locked in with great voice acting for each character and a unique backstory and abilities. I would have been 100 times more invested in the story if I felt like the rest of the team were actual characters with depth! Not this bullshit of disposable agents that you don’t give a shit about. It’s a shockingly bad design decision. A cool concept to have in a meeting and when creating a design doc, but it should have stopped there, at least for this iteration of it.

A true moment of tension, a rarity.

That’s all okay in the end I suppose, care less about the story and try to enjoy more of the gameplay. Does that work out for you? It kind of worked out for me. I started this game up and played it for a day or two a couple months ago, got distracted by something shinny and only just got back to it on a lark. I even got the fucking platinum trophy in it I’m so insane (not bragging).

The one thing I liked about the story is this moment when I had to chase down this bad guy that fucked over my team. He took off in his car and wouldn’t you know, I was on my dumb construction drone. I stuck with it and pretty soon he was out of sight while I slowly floated after his engine exhaust. I figured the mission would fail, I would be sent back to a checkpoint and I’d try it over again in a car this time. Instead, to my surprise, he got away and the story kept going. I had to do a mission to resolve this new branching story arch, it felt surprisingly organic and kind of impressed me. Now, to be honest, I have no idea if this was an actual branching story path or I was going to fail that mission no matter what, I hope it was a branching path because that is pretty cool. And if that’s the case I want more of that, I want a harder game that accepts your failure and gives you alternate ways to achieve success.

Just flying my construction drone, as you do.

So yea, I plowed through the story, which is really just forgettable. A lot of video games, in my eyes, just fucking suck at telling a good story that grabs your attention. It’s like we’re still coming out of the silent film era and learning how to use voice and audio in our movies. After that I stuck around to get trophies, which I wasn’t sure I was going to do. Luckily I had some nice podcasts and long-form YouTube videos to listen to in the background. I checked out PowerPyx for their guide and just went in the order they recommended. Sometimes it’s just therapeutic to go around checking boxes and cleaning up a game like this.

So I played the game on PS5 and it offers you two different graphical options to select from. You get a performance and quality mode, only one of which is actually playable. You would have to be a complete psycho to choose the quality mode in this game. It runs at 30fps and it’s just not where it’s at, it gives me a headache to watch the camera sweep around at such a low framerate. It really makes me wonder how I used to feel good about 30fps games on last gen consoles, perhaps they better optimized the way the image was rendered to smooth out some of the stuttery look of 30fps by using motion blur and stuff like that. You do get some nice ray traced reflections and everything, which are impressive but not worth it in the least. I would love to see them go for a 40fps quality mode with raytracing like Ratchet and Clank did, now that could be something usable, especially with a 120hz TV.

Ray Tracing Comparisons – Quality vs Performance

Quality mode also pushes out the shadows on the right. Check out the ghosting of the building reflection on the top of the car.
The RT reflections extend past the screen-space ones typically used, while also reflecting the robot perfectly.
Reflections on the buildings windows are actually accurate with RT on.
RT really does ground the scene and make it feel more realistic.
While not the best looking water, RT on does add to the realism.

In the end, I guess I’m happy that I played this game and bought it at a discount instead of full price. Watch Dogs 2 still stands out in my head as the best game in the series. I remember having fun playing that game and actually liking some of the characters in it, which is something one should care about (hint hint.

Final Score – 6.2

It’s a game that filled up some time, I had some fun with it. It’s not great. It shows that the series needs a serious redesign to stay relevant and to captivate a whole new audience. They really need to start fresh and not be so bleak with the look. Invest in characters, story, mission design, weapons, all that open world good shit that other games do better. I would have loved if they took the way the story in GTA5 wrapped around the three main characters, where they were all unique and living in the world, but just added a few more. Steal from the best. Give me that style of character progress and backstory but in the world of DedSec and Watch Dogs.

You’re welcome Ubisoft, I’d love to work on a game with you.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition (PS5) – Review

Having played the original Mass Effect on the XBox 360 when it came out, the second game on PC, and not having a solid memory of playing the third game on anything, I had to pick this collection up. This was a day one purchase and a series I truly enjoyed replaying.

This is my Shepard, there are many like her, but this one is mine.

Over the years I forgot most of the story of Mass Effect. I remembered bits about splitting up your team on a suicide mission, Mass Effect relays, sexual relationships, and scanning planets for hours on end. Having just completed the collection, I’m drawn to the relationship with Liara that my fem-Shep carried through all the games. How I spurned the advances from my other team members. How we took down the shadow broker and revived a Prothean all while saving the universe.

The games do need to be played back-to-back to get a true feeling for the brilliance of this series. If you pick up the Legendary Edition, make sure you have the time to commit to the whole series, the payoff is all the better for it. The amount of time needed to beat each ones goes up with each game. Depending on trophy hunting and completion ration, you’re looking at 15-30 hours per game.

The first game is a little rough around the edges. The environments are really basic and there isn’t much depth to any aspect of the game besides the storytelling. While that sounds like a negative, it’s not a knock against the game. You’re already jumping into a massive trilogy, so feeling this first game out and seeing that it’ll be a relatively short and easy romp provides a good sense of motivation. There aren’t a lot of side missions to mess around with. Levels are pretty basic so you’re not going to get lost or frustrated. Just dig into the fantastic story and start learning about the lore of the universe. Spend some time getting to know all of the squadmates and engross yourself into the world.

I started the game thinking that I’d go renegade (dark side), as apposed to paragon (light side). From my first interaction I realized that I just can’t be a dick to people. I wanted to help everyone out, be the hero, get my girl, and save the day. So Paragon it was.

STNG reference?

The first game has one really major choice for your character to make, it has to do with the squad-mate you send to die. You get to chose between Ashley and Kaiden, needless to say the guy took the bullet for the team on this one. He was a good soldier and understood the risks involved and was wiling to make a sacrifice for the galaxy.

I’m not going to dive deep into the story in this review because that’s the whole point of the series. The story is the main driving force and the relationships you form with your crew are all the flavor your little ice cream shop needs to stay in business. The first game does start surprisingly well. The voice acting holds up, even though the character animations and graphics don’t. It would have been really nice to have seen this series get the Demon Souls treatment and brought into the current generation of graphics. As it is, it’s a nice lookback of the evolution of the series and how their engine evolved over the three games.

The guy is old.

The second game immediately feels tighter in the gameplay area. Combat is more strategic, you don’t have to just run around with a handgun shooting people in the head. The AI in the first game is pretty horrible, characters would just move left and right like big idiots, the second game bestows them with more of a brain and they’re now capable of using cover.

The biggest addition the second game makes is the introduction of the Illusive Man played by Martin Sheen. It’s a cool concept to have this perceived enemy, with crazy eyes and a room looking over a star that is controlling your characters actions and all that it implies. You get a mix of old and new crew along with DLC characters that are all included in this game.

Illusive Man.

The game world itself expands from the first, now worlds are more detailed and not as cookie-cutter like how the first game felt. The universe is a bit bigger and has more places to explore. You now get bespoke loyalty missions with each of your squadmates. These missions allow you to get some one-on-one time with your crew to help them out and learn more about them. They are each a great chance to play a cool mission while hanging out with your crew and making them happy.

This is the game that made planet scanning a thing. The thing is, and here is a tip for all you trophy hunters, you don’t need to scan that many planets. Just take it easy, every solar system does not need to get 100% scanned or drained of resources or anything like that. It’s a waist of time, trust me. It’s funny how scanning planets is a memory I clearly have from over a decade ago…

Choices.

The hacking in this game is also so much better than the first one, you don’t have to do that simple puzzle game anymore, now you get a few different options based on the type of device you’re getting into, and they’re a little more stimulating this time which is good.

Some highlights from this game are taking down the Shadow Broker, Jack’s storyline, and the final assault where the whole team comes together to do a mission. Nobody on my team died because I looked at a trophy guide and made sure I ticked all the boxes, but it’s just fun to finally have everyone you’ve met get involved in a big mission. It made the stakes feel even that much more important to the story, especially for the player.

Old Friends.

After taking down the second game, I was almost about to stop playing and mix it up a bit with another game. I am so glad I didn’t do that and just started up the next one. Now remember, I just got the platinum in two games in a row, even though they are much easier to get now than in the original trophy list, which was something I never even considered doing. So I had a few more hours invested in each game than someone else who just wants the story. I was immediately hooked in the story and just wanted to see it through the end. I loaded up my save character and got to work!

The best thing about this game is that you get to start with a bunch of level up points that you can spend on skills, and you start with a bit of money which makes everything a little easier.

Choices

Immediately you can tell this is a new game. It just felt even better to play than the second game. Movement felt fresh and you weren’t confined to the running stamina bar you had in the second game. Character models all look pretty good, the females in this game have bodies out of magazines, which is a look. The weirdest thing I found in all these games is the way Shepard walks, there is something about her gate. When you think about it you can figure out what is happening, I think they have one skeleton that they use for all their characters. That means that everyone will have the same basic proportions and the joints will be in the same places. To accommodate certain species and genders using one rig, something has to not look right, and it’s definitely female Shepard. As she saunters around the galaxy, looking like a cowboy or something. She has one of the oddest gaits of any character in a game. It’s not a huge deal, just an interesting artifact to uncover.

Another thing that shocked me was when I saw Ashley Williams. I guess being a Specter suits her well. She cleaned herself up, got a haircut and learned how to put on makeup. It’s pretty hilarious to see how her character evolved over the games. I wonder what happened in the meetings with the character artists as they were putting this game together.

Ashely, meet Ashley. She’ll be replacing you from now on.

The thing that blew me away with the third game was just how many different environments and art assets you see in your journey. You go from a mission on a crashed ship in the middle of an ocean where you dive down in a mech suit to the bottom searching for your goal to a densely populated city where you’re helping freedom fighters take back a city. It just adds to the world building and makes you feel more connected with an actual universe of people who are all counting on the success of your mission. Compare that to some of the previous games and it does feel like there is a bigger budget on this title.

This game adds a war assets feature where every good deed you do and every alley you recruit adds to a growing pool of assets. The more you get the better your outcome is in the end. Needless to say, you kind of want to get as many forces together as possible. Not just for the number or for the outcome it provides, but you want to stay in this world just a little bit longer. You want to get that flotilla together because you’ve been hearing about these people since the first game. You feel a need to make the rounds, to touch base with everyone you can and to join hands in stopping this genocide from happening.

Perhaps it’s because Liara is my girl and I stayed faithful to her throughout the series, but I did feel a connection to her. It’s a little sad that you can’t go full dating sim with her and that you only get a few scripted moments to have any real sort of connection. It would have been nice to get that a little more fleshed out, but that’s a criticism I have for a lot of games with this type of mechanic. In the end, they did do a good job with her relationship, so I’m not complaining too much.

If you have a problem with Jack dancing on the table, you tell her to stop.

Another great moment in this game is when you get to bring everyone to your apartment to have a party. It’s a great time to just have the whole crew together for a celebration, where characters can loosen up and get drunk. It was fun seeing everyone interact with each other, which doesn’t happen that often with the dynamics of ship life.

The funny thing about the ending is that I can’t say I was overly happy about the way it turned out. For those that want to know, you get to choose between three different outcomes for the universe, or go down a secret path were it’s basically game over and you fucked up. I don’t like how ambiguous the ending feels, no matter which one you choose. I got a little beacon of hope at the end, but I still would have liked just a bit more. It’s a little sad knowing that the new game, Andromeda, doesn’t really pick up on this character arc and they team decided to start so far away from this world and everything that was established in this trilogy.

My girl.

Final Score – 9.4

This was a fantastic series. Playing through this legendary edition made me really love Mass Effect all over again. Time had worn down my appreciation for the series. It left it as a memory of something that was good, but today probably wouldn’t hold up. I was wrong. These games do hold up, and they tell a science fiction story full of depth, heart, and intrigue. I finished the series and had the same feeling I got from finishing a good TV show or movie series in which you’re fully invested in the characters and world for an extended period of time. You just want to live in it a little longer and digest everything that just happened. The only thing left for me to do would be to play through again as a renegade asshole. Here’s hoping that a remake of this series, similar to Demon’s Souls on PS5 is in the works.

Shadow of the Colossus (PS4) – Review

I played this game back at the end of January of this year and just needed to put some words down about it. I did play this game when it was first released on the Playstation 2, and I still have my copy locked up with my old games. It was originally released back in 2005 and fans were clamoring for a remake ever since. This version was put out for the PS4 and I ended up playing it on my PS5.

What makes this game special in my mind has a lot to do with how slight it feels. The game can be beaten in one day, easily. There is no voice acting and hardly any story at all. The bosses can be killed relatively easily. This all works together to encapsulate the feeling you get from playing this game, which is unique. A lot of modern games are just so bloated that any sort of feeling you might have is eroded away through a constant grind of game mechanics that are solely there to keep you playing.

This title respects your time and doesn’t try to do more than it has to. You quickly grow an attachment to your character and horse. It feels wrong what you’re doing to these colossi, but destroy them you must for the princess is what matters most to your character. That feeling you get from playing the game pulls you through the journey of your character and by the end of it you can honestly say that you’ve had an emotional connection to the story. Not a lot of games can make that claim.

Different quality modes present. Added resolution and shadows can be seen in the right image.

This title is special. The remaster done by BluePoint is fantastic, it’s a beautiful looking game that plays great on the PS5. The controls and camera can be frustrating at times, but if you’re grown up with this title you know exactly what you’re in for. I didn’t attempt to get the platinum trophy or anything like that, not really necessary for me to feel good about this game.

Final Score – 8.3

This is a rare style of game that draws an emotional response from the player using minimal storytelling elements. Those limitations help make it one of the more memorable titles you can play. A true classic and something all gamers should experience.

End

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – Review

The Good

This is definitely the best Star Wars game I’ve played in a very long time. The game is basically Metroid Prime for Star Wars. You visit multiple planets and unlock new abilities that allow you to open new paths and find power-ups for your character. There is just something about that style of game that feels just right. Now, I don’t want every game to be like this, but it sure is nice getting one. It would have been even better with fast travel, because fuck this game for not having fast travel.

The games story is good, not great. It definitely serves it’s purpose and makes you want to keep exploring the various planets in your journey. You probably wont be surprised by anything that happens, save for one moment that I wont spoil. It starts off with an interesting premise and set location and quickly moves into a romp around the galaxy.

What a cool scene.

The best part of the story and set up is simply the main character Cal Kestis. He’s acted by that kid from Shameless, which isn’t really needed, but the part that I like is just his character. He’s a pretty chill dude, there isn’t much drama with him and you’re not struggling with light and dark at every turn. He’s just a guy that knows what needs to be done, keeps a fairly level head throughout the whole journey. It’s just refreshing to hang out with him and your little robot companion, BD-1, in the game. The could have easily gone down the typical tropes in other stories, showing a struggle with the light and dark side, but they just keep it fresh and light.

The gameplay is good, it feels good to swing a lightsaber around and you get plenty of upgrades to add new moves to your arsenal. Particles and lights flash as you cut through your foes with your lightsaber, providing a kinetic experience not found in other Star Wars games. I found the whole “Dark Souls” get killed and your experience is in the person that killed you thing to be a little pointless. I only really died a few times in my game and rarely against normal style enemies. I think it should have been a mechanic that was saved for the higher difficulty tiers since it had little to no impact on my game. The biggest issue I had with the gameplay was using the ropes and jumping around before getting more powers, to sliding down slopes which got a little janky at times. Sometimes jumping off a rope or to the rope is an exercise in frustration, you will constantly miss or launch out at the wrong angle, causing you to fall into a hole over and over. I wound up just calling him an idiot when he did something utterly stupid, which happened a lot.

The music and sound effects were all very good. I liked a part in the beginning of the game when you enter an area and local music is playing, it’s a really Star Wars style grunge sound that just fit with the game. Sadly, it’s not used as often as I would have liked, but that would involve less barren planets and more locations with a population of civilians. The voice acting and everything was good, I also liked the sounds that BD-1 gave as you ran around, it was a good clue for points of interest in the environment. You end up really liking the little robot by the end of the game, even though it doesn’t have that much personality and is used more as a tool than a character in the plot.

I can’t forget to talk about one of the best aspects of the game, which are the environments and the way they are constructed. There is just a massive amount of high-frequency detail in the geometry. While it might struggle in other ways, it is always impressive to see what they are doing with game geometry compared to other titles. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the game has such a hard time with loading. It really did give me memories of playing Metroid Prime, whose levels were created in Maya and were not cookie-cutter in nature. This does feel like a real world with interesting things happening around every corner. Don’t expect to see the exact same shapes and objects scattered all over the place. There is some real talent and asset production that went into developing these worlds in 3D. I would be really excited to see what they can do with the next version of Unreal Engine on PS5, that’s for sure.

The Meh

I have a real issue with the character model of Cere. It’s almost distracting when the character is on screen. I just think the model and rendering of her face is not where it should be and does not compare with the work done on the other women in this game. The best way I can describe it is that there is just a softness in her face. The other women do wear more makeup, which really helps in making their character models stand out. Cere’s eyes just bulge out without having any sort of shadow around them. It’s almost unnatural the way it looks. I’m not saying that her eyes or the shape of them are unnatural, just the way they are rendered. I wish they would have added more shadow in the corners of the eyes to help set them into her face better while also adding more, better defined creases above her eyes and around her mouth. I’m adding a review of Death Stranding soon and seeing the way their characters eyes are done make you really see a difference in modeling, texturing, shader work, and rendering between these two games. It’s a distracting aspect that actually pulled me out of the story and should be improved.

This is one of the better images of her cinematic model, I still would have liked to have seen the upper eye flap that actress has, this would have helped in adding more character to her model. Compare her model to the one of Nighsister Merrin with her makeup, huge difference.

The Bad

If you’ve seen the Mark Cerny “GDC” presentation about the upcoming PS5, where he goes into the improvements they made in regards to hard drive access speed, then I think I know why that’s needed now. I mean, I already knew why it was needed from a technical perspective, but this game is the definition of needing that increase in speed.

You’ll be seeing this a lot, maybe not if you’re on a nice PC, but console version for sure.

Just for context, I played this game on the base PS4 since my two Pro consoles are in a crate traveling to Japan right now with the rest of my stuff. Not that it would have changed that much in regards to this aspect. The game has a terrible time at trying to keep up with streaming in new assets, it kind of hurts the game and it’s part of the reason why I knocked my score down just a bit.

If you run through a level, especially after beating the game and going for the platinum trophy, you are constantly hitting signs of the levels trying to load around you. Sometimes the game would just freeze if I went too fast, just like how Half Life 2 used to do between areas. It’ll just freeze the frame, no loading sign, and you just have to wait a few seconds before being able to continue. Sometimes you can watch parts of the world just appear around you. One section I jumped down into a workshop and there was nothing in it but the walls and basic lighting. I ran into the room I was going into and got hit by an invisible spinning blade, only to then have the furniture, lighting, and blade start to appear moments later.

I think something forgot to load.

I’ve had the game crash on me about five times while playing. Each time I was forced to go back to the last meditation point I stopped at while not keeping anything I picked up. This had me replay sections, recollect any collectibles I already picked up, which led me to stop at every single meditation spot I saw just in case it crashed again. It was very frustrating. I do think it had something to do with the streaming of assets, since there was a lot of hitching caused by that.

I would really love to see a version of this for PS5. This game needs that hard drive speed and the increased graphical capabilities available there, it’d be nice if they provide a free patch. If they did that and made some big improvements before the sequel, perhaps I’d run through it again.

While I’m talking about negatives, the presentation and quality of the image being presented on-screen is of a very low quality. What I mean by this is not the typical graphics, it’s the way the frame is rendered out. The game itself can be very beautiful and is technically really nice, it is just covered with temporal ghosting artifacts all over. I’ll show an example below of what I mean. What I’m talking about is not a part of the camera motion blur, the aspects I’m talking about would not have motion vectors associated with them. It reminds me a lot of the ambient occlusion ghosting I experienced in Control on the PC.

BD-1 should not have a ghost trail coming off his head.

Final Score – 8.6

A great Star Wars game marred by technical issues. Perhaps I should have just played this on PC. The main character and his mild-mannered personality was a refreshing aspect that I didn’t know I needed. Just please include some sort of fast travel in a sequel, especially for trophy hunting purposes in the end-game.

Monstress – When Love at First Sight Turns Into a Catfish

The art in Monstress is just so good! Why couldn’t the comic just be a lot better? That’s all I could think about it as I struggled to plow through the first three issues of this comic.

This is so frustrating. I started trying to read Monstress, a comic that I was drawn to because of the amazing art. If you just flip through an issue and look at it, the characters are all beautiful. It’s dripping with so much style, how can you not love it?!

I’ll tell you how, try reading the first three issues of this series. I looked up reviews before reading and people loved it and talked about how it started off slow and took a while to get really good. The premise and everything seem really cool, from what I could understand. Don’t worry, they have a recap of the last issue at the beginning of each comic, that helps in understanding just what the fuck you read in the last issue.

I just have a fundamental issue with the way the comic is written. Let’s take the two different sides and the social-political structure of this fantasy world, okay. Let’s break it down and have a little section where we give the reader a way to understand the landscape in a logical manner, one where they understand the plights of these creatures that are being used as parts for whatever it is. So now the reader knows what the situation is and can relate to the main protagonist and understand her motivations and can see just how hard her journey is going to be. Let’s just be given some sort of reference from the writer of the story.

Or lets not. Don’t give us anything. Make it all really confusing and boring. Make all this beautiful artwork and story ideas, because there are good story ideas in here, but let’s take all that and just ruin it by structuring the words in such a way as to make the reader fall asleep.

The comic really needs to get a good editor another author on board, someone who can structure the story in a more coherent manner. Perhaps they need to do a soft reboot of the book and structure things out better. I just can’t even with this series. I stopped in the third issue and don’t think I’ll go back.

But that artwork is so fucking good!

If looks could kill

Erica – Review

Now who the hell would have thought that people could still release an FMV game in 2019? I know that it’s 2020 right now, but the game was just in the Playstation Plus games so I had to give it a go. I haven’t played one of these games since Double Switch, Fahrenheit, and Wirehead on the Sega CD. And if those were the last games you had to pull from, you could imagine just how excited I was to play this game.

Some decent acting and production value round out the package.

All kidding aside, I was shocked at the production value for this game. The filmic quality of the production didn’t make it seem like a cheap product. If anything, it drew me into the story because of the quality of lighting and acting present on screen. I only recognized one of the actors, which was Terence Maynard. The main character of Erica, played by Holly Earl, was spot on for the role of the player character. While she made certain choices on her own, it’s up to the player to make the more decisive decisions in the story.

Oh, I played the game using the PS4 Erica app that the game recommended when first launching, it worked quite well and I would recommend it.

When first starting it up, I quickly felt like I don’t want to be “playing” this game. I had an urge to just do a half hour, do something more exciting, and come back to it another day. I’m glad that I just stuck with it and finished the 90 minute game in one sitting though. It feels like that’s how this game is supposed to be experienced.

The odd bunch. Haven’t you seen Se7en?

One thing that I really did like about the game is the way interacting with objects in the environment were portrayed on screen. You select the object, the camera moves to a locked in close-up of the object, and then you swipe the screen while a stop motion animation of the opening is displayed, with the speed of the swipe tied to the opening animation. It’s just a nice bit of technology and ingenuity on the creators part that I could appreciate.

I’m not going to spoil anything about the story, since that would be a really dumb thing to do, it’s basically all this game has going for it. The big question is, did I like the story? I mean, there was enough to get me through the game. As things picked up I wanted to see where this whole plot was going and how it was going to resolve itself. The last bit of the story is where I think they stumbled the most. I’ll say this, I just didn’t get enough of a resolution with the ending. It didn’t feel satisfying at all. It ended and I looked over at my boo, who watched the game with me, and we were a bit like “Is that it?”. They needed to have hit that ending story a lot harder, make an impact and leave me speechless, breathless, intrigued or something.

A vacant expression.

The ending I got, along with knowing there are six different ones in total, made me immediately look up all the other endings to see how different they were from what I had. That was another disappointment, seeing how similar they all are. I guess I was looking for completely different paths as it got towards the end of the game, instead of a large tree with large forks in the branches, it was just a little spruce tree.

Final Score – 7.0

Never would have thought I’d be playing an FMV game, especially one that looked this good. Get it for cheap and give it a try. While not the best story, I do think that I’ll remember my experience playing this game for years to come. At least now I’ll be on the lookout for another good FMV game, which sounds insane.

Call of Duty: WWII – Review

Another day, another Call of Duty campaign in the books. This is just a little review of the single player portion of this game since I don’t care to play the multiplayer at all. It will also be super short because what can you say about another Call of Duty game after you’ve just played one of them?

Get ready for some man mood.

This game was pretty damn good. So I have a long history of playing both Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, starting with the Playstation 1 version of Medal of Honor. So when I say that WWII first person shooters holds a nice little spot in my heart, I mean it. I forgot the feeling you get out of playing an FPS based on that war, it’s seemed to have gone out of fashion in the past decade or so. I didn’t even think about it until this game loaded up and I had a M1 Garand in my hands and then switched that over to the M1A1 Carbine. Oh man, the weapons in this game are what make it so good. Perhaps any game that gets the firing, sound effects, and handling of these weapons right will be good enough for me. The weapons are all awesome and feel right, along with the great controls and sound effects. It just gets the feel of what one of these games needs to be. Fire off the 8 rounds in your Garand and hear the ting noise that is so iconic, its perfect. So we’re doing good so far.

Do you heard the call? The call of duty?

The story was enough to keep me engaged and entertained throughout the twelve stages of the campaign. I was a little worried when it starts with the beach landing, since it seems like well-worn territory, but it quickly moves through that and gets into the mainland of Europe. While I wasn’t really invested in the main story, it actually drew my attention more than other games in the series. I attribute this to the different actors used for the characters and the way they look in the game. More modern entries in the series make a lot of the squad-mates look similar and I kind of don’t care about them. The group story also helps in making the squad feel like a real unit of guys going on missions.

All that’s really left after this is the levels and what they have to offer. They’re good looking and offer some nice opportunities to shoot Nazis to your hearts content, which is fun. I really don’t have many complaints about the levels in this game, they are entertaining and keep the action moving. You get spots where you can snipe with your Kar98, which feel great. You just have to love sniping with these weapons and lining up shots with the iron sites of the guns.

I’m not going into some deep-dive on the levels and the story, because I just don’t care to do that. I think I will play this game again at some point, it’s a bit hard to go back to the older WWII games in the series since they’re so old. I just have a soft spot for this era, add that to the smooth gameplay and high production value single player campaign and you have a winner in my book. I wish the trophy list just covered the single player though (which isn’t likely to ever happen), I’d probably go for the platinum if it did.

Final Score – 9.0

Hrmm… the same score I gave to the last game, seems a bit shady if you ask me. I would have put this a few points lower, but I just love those guns and would play the game again just to run around shooting Nazis with my favorite weapons. So if you love classic guns, love shooting Nazis, what the fuck are you waiting for?

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered – Review

If you ever want to see a stark contrast between the quality of two games, try playing Star Wars Battlefront II and then play this game. This game only has the single player portion of MW2, which is all I wanted from it. That’s because I only play the single player portion of the Call of Duty games so this was perfect for me.

Time keeps on ticking.

I’m going to keep this little review short and sweet. I played through the whole campaign in one day, just like I did with Battlefront II. The game just feels right. Activision and the studios working on the CoD games, along with the engine they utilize to build these games, are just a winning combination for this style of game. The shooting, running, and aiming all work in beautiful harmony with the controller to make the action feel just right.

Sometimes it’s nice to not have sprawling maps with quests and shit like that to have to worry about.

The variety of weapons that you pick up are all distinct in firing, as well as the animations and sound FX that go along with them. I noticed that I would get attached to the performance and shooting patterns of certain weapons and would carry them along with me through a mission. It makes the experience feel more personal. There is also something to keeping the load-out you start a mission with throughout the mission. It feels more like your characters personal weapons; why would you want to lose those during a mission?

The campaign is really strong in this game, easily making it my favorite of the ones that I can remember. The story is pretty strong as well, even though I wasn’t really focused on it all the time. The last time I played this game was about a decade ago and I still remembered some of the levels. The only thing that is missing from this remaster, for me, is the Spec Ops mode. I loved playing the Spec Ops challenges in single player mode, trying to get all the stars for each level on my own was a fun challenge.

Final Score – 9.0

The single player campaign is great. It’s one of the best linear FPS campaigns you can play. Sometimes it’s nice to not have sprawling maps with quests and shit like that to have to worry about. Focus on the feel of combat, action set pieces, and feeling like a badass.